Soul, R&B and Motown were defining musical genres in America that helped shape the course of not just this country’s cultural history, but many others’ too. The powerful songs of groups like The Supremes, The Temptations, Smokey Robinson and the Miracles and so many others live on, of course, and can still get a dance floor moving like little else–except possibly Robyn.
The legacy of soul, however, isn’t limited to golden oldies. The last few years have brought with them artists like Amy Winehouse, Adele and Sharon Jones, all of whom endeavored to bring soul music to a new generation. The success of these artists has led to something of a mainstream soul revival, led by musicians intent on carrying the genre’s legacy into the future.
Here are three of my favorites:
If Fields sounds like the real deal, that’s because he is: the North Carolina native has been making R&B records since 1969, toured with the likes of Kool and the Gang and has a huge back catalog of recordings. It just goes to show: if you stick around long enough, you’ll eventually get the recognition you deserve. Fields’ “You’re the Kind of Girl” sounds like it could have come out in the heyday of soul.
Holding down the R&B corner is upstart Nick Waterhouse, a 25-year-old LA-based singer/producer who looks like he stepped out of a time warp from 1962. Waterhouse has the aesthetic down pat, and his music is set to do for neo-R&B what The Black Keys did for blues rock.
You’ll probably recognize Aloe Blacc’s “I Need a Dollar” from a phone commercial (or perhaps from the opening to HBO’s How to Make It in America) but don’t let that detract from the song’s inherent listenability–in fact that’s a pretty good argument in favor of it.